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Passenger COVID testing expanded to more US airports

Passenger COVID testing expanded to more US airports

The health authorities of USA expanded a testing program to international travelers to detect the COVID and other infectious diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) program asks international travelers to voluntarily submit to a nasal swab test and answer questions about their travel. The program operates at six airports, and on Tuesday, the CDC said it would add two more, O’Hare in Chicago and Miami.

Those sites should provide more information about respiratory infections coming particularly from South America, Africa and Asia, CDC officials said.

“Miami and Chicago allow us to collect samples that come from areas of the world where global surveillance is not as intense as it used to be”said Allison Taylor Walker of the CDC. “What we really need is a good overview of what is happening in the world to be prepared for whatever comes.”

The program began in 2021, and has been credited with detecting coronavirus variants more quickly than other systems. Nasal swab genomic testing of travelers has focused primarily on COVID, but testing is also done for two other respiratory viruses: influenza and respiratory syncytial virus.

Participants are not notified of the results. However, they are provided a home testing kit to carry with them, CDC officials said.

Samples have been collected from more than 475,000 air travelers arriving on flights from more than 135 countries, according to officials.

Health officials have also been testing wastewater coming from international flights at some airports. Such testing is done to detect COVID, but CDC officials are evaluating the possibility of monitoring wastewater for other pathogens, Walker said.

The CDC program currently has a budget of about $37 million. The agency pays two companies, Ginkgo Bioworks and XWell, to collect samples and perform tests. The companies are working with the CDC to expand the program to detect more than 30 disease-causing germs.

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Source: Gestion

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